Kaitaia woman Patsy Panther has considerable sympathy for the 72-year-old Palmerston North man who claimed last week that he had been told to make his way home from Wellington Hospital, in his pyjamas, by bus.
Ian Sutherland had been transferred from Palmerston North to Wellington after suffering a heart attack. Upon discharge he was told he would have to take a bus home, at a cost of $24, dressed in pyjamas, a dressing gown and slippers.
It was also suggested that he borrow money to buy clothes from an op shop for the trip home.
Mr Sutherland objected, and was later flown home by air ambulance.
Mrs Panther said she had a very similar experience after being discharged from Whangarei Hospital earlier this month, on the day of her 84th birthday.
She was admitted to Kaitaia Hospital on August 30 after suffering a pitimal stroke. She was delivered to the hospital by ambulance, wearing her nightie, dressing gown and slippers.
The following day she was transferred to the stroke unit at Whangarei, and two days later was discharged. The stroke had left her with very limited mobility, and she was still dressed in her nightie and dressing gown, but was told that a bus would be leaving from the hospital for Kaitaia later in the day.
Mrs Panther, who has suffered a series of strokes and still has great difficulty walking, said she was unable to climb steps, let alone get aboard a bus. And the prospect of a long journey home, very unwell and dressed as she was, had been distressing.
She finally asked her sister, in her late 70s and not in good health, to drive from Awanui to bring her some day clothes and to return her to her home.
"I can't believe what hospitals are doing to elderly people like me and this man from Palmerston North," she said.
"I was lucky that I had someone I could call on, although it wasn't easy for my sister to drive all the way to Whangarei and back again. What would have happened if she hadn't been there for me? I would have had to come home on the bus, in my nightie and dressing gown."
Neil Beney, Northland DHB general manager health of older people and clinical support, said the medical record stated that Mrs Panther had been cleared for discharge on the basis that her symptoms had resolved themselves and she was fit to go home.
The record notes that the stroke nurse co-ordinator discussed travel options with Mrs Panther, one of which could have been the hospital bus from Whangarei and to Kaitaia, and that Mrs Panther offered to call a family member, which she did.
"Should Mrs Panther have chosen to travel on the bus the ward would have found suitable clothing for her to wear home," Mr Beney added.